Paul Lismore

[Paul Lismore] The theatre of the absurd

Rédigé par Paul Lismore le Lundi 28 Septembre 2020


We are all guilty of it; it usually manifests itself for us lesser mortals at midnight on New Year's Day when the emotions of the dawn of a new phase of our lives seem to compel us to make promises about aspects of our behaviour that we would dearly like to change.

I am one of many people who make a solemn pledge to give up smoking on every New Year's Day only to light up the poisonous weed again the following day. But at least the honest intention to do something good and worthwhile underpinned that promise, and its non fulfilment was entirely due to lack of will power and nothing else; unlike the promises liberally garnished with fine words by our politicians who will do anything to win power.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight some of the more absurd ones:
1/ Bef travay, souval manzer—which is perhaps the most popular one, and coincidentally the most idiotic one, used by politicians whenever they are in opposition, and desperately doing anything in order to wear the crown of the victor at the next general elections. Ramgoolam, Jugnauths, Berenger have all used that rather stupid slogan.... Bef travay, souval manzer is relentlessly followed by the promise that kan nou pran pouvoir, bef travay et bef mem ki pou manzer! But they won't tell you that the souval will be magically transformed into a bourik who will then ignore with impunity and contempt every traffic law in existence when he is chauffeur driven in a limousine paid for by us befs. And all the multimillionaires vying to become Prime Minister still cannot see anything absurd or dishonest with that putrid slogan.
2/ Lekonomi dan la main ene poignee dimoune : This one never fails to tug at the heart strings of a nation made up of disparate communities constantly revisiting the past in order to reestablish the identities that supposedly fuse together to form the mythical 'Rainbow Nation'. "Ene poigner dimoune" is of course a euphemism for the 'grands blancs', and I still look back with amazement at the impudence of the MMM manifesto for the 1976 general elections that loudly proclaimed that, should it be voted to power, it would 'tackle the oligarchy of the 14 families'. Well, the MMM did come to power in 1982, and one of the first actions of the MMM leader, Paul Berenger, was to reinforce the already overwhelming strength of those 14 families….The successive governments of SAJ, Navin Ramgoolam, and Berenger have managed to redistribute some wealth, but they have also made sure that Lekonomi will continue to remain in the hands of the few.
Of course, Lekonomi dan la main ene poigner dimoune is a slogan that has its roots in socialism and, as we know, all our politicians are "socialists"; at least, that is what they tell us whenever a microphone is shoved in front of their noses and at political meetings after they have disembarked from their big cars, looking well fed, and wearing designer clothes that hang incongruously on bodies that have failed to defy the effects of gravity, alcohol, and gluttony....
We have witnessed this phenomenon so often over the last four decades that it is safe to now define a socialist in Paradise Island as simply this: someone who will say anything to win power, and then to use that power to grab anything that is not firmly fixed to the floor, to use every trick in the book and to invent many more in order to use taxpayers' money for his own benefit, to allocate state land to himself, his friends, relatives, even mistresses, or to industrialists in return for a hefty baksheesh, etc…And the new multimillionaire will then look us in the eye at every general election and proclaim solemnly that he will ensure that in future bef travay, bef mem pou manzer, whilst at the same time trying to impress us with his devotion to God....
3/ Nou pou konbat corruption: Don't politicians realize what a stupid slogan that is? They are hardly likely to say, nou pou fer plis corruption ki ban la, are they? And yet, every promise to tackle corruption during electoral campaigns is followed by governments which transform venality, nepotism, and greed into an art form. The list of allegations of corruption from the 1970s onwards is voluminous, and every pious declaration of intent to root out corruption has never been translated into firm action to remove this malignant scourge from our society.
Every stage of the fight against corruption is fraught with obstacles specifically designed to ensure that the rich and powerful will get away with practically anything, and that only the small fish will ever get caught for insignificant sums of money and for offences that are trivial compared to the many, many millions stolen by those with the right contacts and who claim to be servi nou pei.
ICAC Mark 1 was useless, and the only memory one can drag back from that sewer of incompetence and splurgy flights of the ego is the huge amount of compensation it gave to Navin Beekarry and Roshi Bhadain for performances that gave mediocrity a bad name.

ICAC Mark 2 has achieved the impossible by being even worse than its predecessor. If the performance appraisal system recommended by the Pay Research Bureau is ever applied to it, hardly any of its current staff will manage to hold on to their jobs; but it won't, and abject incompetence will continue to be rewarded with fantastic salaries, expenses, annual bonus payment of three months salary irrespective of quality of performance, overseas missions with air tickets allegedly bought from relatives, etc..
4/ Nou pou aret gaspillaz: This is in the same league of stupidity as the slogan for the fight against corruption. Politicians are hardly likely to say, nou pou fer plis gaspillaz ki ban la, are they? The evidence does suggest that each government manages to surpass the obscene level of waste and frittering of taxpayers' money than the previous one.

Jobs are created for useless roder bouttes, contracts of employment for political appointees become more inventive with special allowances every month for the poor souls to entertain themselves after a hard day's work doing nothing apart from trying but abysmally failing to appear important, free business class return flights for holidays, telephone call allowances that are so generous as to probably constitute the major component of Mauritius Telecom's massive profits, and missions to every corner of the world to learn about important matters like the effects of gaz on the digestive system of the average Mauritian…and on those unlucky enough to be nearby.
Mayors go on town twinning missions, but only to exotic places with fantastic beaches and hotels, and then have the cheek to tell us how important these self indulgent jamborees are for us; any meeting taking place anywhere in the world is deemed important enough for some idiot to fly there at our expense. And politicians then have the effrontery to lecture us about the environment even when they are salivating about the prospect of getting an even bigger car at our expense. Nou pou aret gaspillaz? To pou aret respirer avan to fer sa do!
5/ MBC ene la honte! Yes, that's right. Until you put your own remote controlled dummies in charge there, and then it becomes an even greater scandal cum brothel.
6/ Nou pou empower tou dimoune: No, you will empower your dimoune to dip into our pockets with more inventive excuses than before.
7/ Nou pou lesse la police fer so travail: Until the day after the elections when you tell the police officer doing his job, To koner moi kisan la?, whenever he stops you, your relative, or your friend for any criminal offence. It also includes the corrosive habit of all governments to use the NSS officers as voyeurs and eavesdroppers on their political opponents. Should taxpayers' money be used so blatantly and illegally for purely party political purposes? VIPSU takes away large numbers of our police officers from frontline law and order responsibilities and uses them instead as props in the hugely important task of boosting and pampering the egos of nonentities we have given importance to by simply putting an X next to their names.
During the next electoral campaign, the leaders' entrances will be heralded by full throated renditions of Bizin sanzman (although that might change to Bizin mem lekip pou pei) and Soldat Lalit Militant, and the inane slogans highlighted above will be repeated ad nauseam. There will be groups of old women desperately holding on to their false teeth whilst sashaying in front of the leaders to the rhythm of a malfunctioning dholak....
Many of us will be thinking out loud: Change the bloody record please. Play something that reflects reality for a change. The pantomime season has run its course and people are now dying of boredom listening to the same nonsense year in year out.
But fear not! The old slogans will be back in force and a Lepep Kouyon will vote for the same or different befs to kokin from us a gogo.

Lundi 28 Septembre 2020

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